How we met: We met in 2014 when I took one of Mari’s workout classes. We didn’t talk much at first, but eventually we discovered that we had a shared love of football and that’s how it all began! Mari is from a small town in Washington called Yakima, so she is by birth a Seahawks fan. I grew up in Orange County and had no ties to any football team until college when I became a Steelers fan (I went to UCSD and the Chargers did not win me over!). One day as we were gearing up for pre-season football, Mari asked me to go with her to a Seahawks/Chargers game and even though I despised both teams, I agreed as long as I could wear my Steelers gear. And that weekend trip to San Diego is the first time we ever hung together outside of the gym (when Mari hopped in my car to start driving down to San Diego, the first thing she said is, “tell me a little bit about yourself” because we honestly knew nothing about each other). It could have easily been a disaster, but instead we had a blast and became instant friends!
For a couple of years, we became extremely close as we both navigated our Master’s programs, hit some bumps in our personal lives, and celebrated the next stage in our careers. We spent tons of time together – going on adventures, eating great food, laughing hysterically, pushing boundaries and traveling. Before a trip to Cancun in 2017, Mari started joking with one of our mutual friends, and now Mari’s Best Man, that she was going to kiss me when we were away. Because I am not a touchy person, our friend thought that Mari was just trying to give me a hard time. Little did I know that Mari had been accepting that she wanted to be more than friends for awhile and wanted to express those feelings to me in Cancun. Needless to say, her plan worked, and from that trip (and kiss) onward, we have been together ever since! There have been some major obstacles for us to overcome mostly because this is both Mari and I’s first same sex relationship which was extremely difficult for some people to accept. But despite these challenges, building a life together has been so easy! And even on our toughest days, what keeps us going is that we love to laugh and we don’t ourselves too seriously. We love to be in the moment and be authentically ourselves! And that is what we are trying to bring to our big day.
How she proposed: We knew early on that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and when we started talking about marriage, I always told Mari that she would have to propose to me. We moved to San Clemente in October 2018 and were super excited to spend the holidays together. As we were making plans for Christmas, Mari was really adamant that we spend Christmas morning together – just the two of us and our two dogs. She even insisted that we wake up extra early so that we could be camera ready because she wanted us to film our first Christmas in our own place so that we could have the memory forever. I was not entirely on board and kept wanting to do Christmas morning in our pajamas because it was only the two of us who would see the video.
Ultimately, Mari won and in our Christmas outfits, with a camera set up to film us, we started to exchange presents. When it was time for me to open up my stocking from Mari, she walked away telling me that she was so hot that she needed air. I didn’t think much of it and just kept opening my stocking. At the very bottom of the stocking was a box wrapped in paper. I opened the box, thinking that she got me jewelry. But when I opened the box to find it empty, I looked up to find Mari and she was down on one knee holding a box with my ring in it. Of course I said yes and she put her grandmother’s ring on my finger! It was the perfect proposal because it showed that Mari knew that I would want it to be done privately and somewhere that I felt comfortable (I get extremely anxious when attention is focused on me!). After sharing the news with a few people, we both took a nap (so totally us!) before we spent the day at the beach and went out for a celebratory Christmas dinner.
Location: Felicita Park
Photographer: Paul Douda Photography